In recent weeks, volunteer tutors in the United Way of Washington County TN’s Vello virtual reading program have had the opportunity to connect with the youngsters they’ve been tutoring.
The Vello program, which is in its second year, is designed to help first- through third-graders strengthen their reading skills with the help of a tutor. The online sessions allow the youngsters to read to their tutors for 30 minutes at a time. They work on reading skills, comprehension and talk about anything else that might come up. The local United Way chapter has partnered with Johnson City Schools and the Washington County School System with the goal of bringing the Vello program to every first- through third-grade classroom in the area.
This year, high school students have been connected with elementary school students to offer Vello tutoring sessions. Three high schools in Johnson City and Washington County are currently taking part in the Vello program. Such a partnership led to a recent Vello Party at David Crockett High School, where 15 Vello tutors had the opportunity to show 22 elementary school students around the high school.
Last Thursday morning, several volunteers from different organizations converged on Mountain View Elementary School to meet the children they’ve been mentoring this fall. The volunteers included members of the ETSU women’s basketball team, ETSU Roan Scholars, Ballad Health employees, AT&T employees and SunTrust bank employees. All 125 students in the five classrooms participating in the program received a free book, a snack and were able to spend time with their respective Vello volunteers.
Last year, children who participated in the Vello program increased their reading proficiency by 4.2 reading levels. Over 164 volunteers participated in the program and over 300 children benefited from the Vello programs in their classrooms.
If you are interested in learning more about Vello or becoming a volunteer please contact the United Way of Washington County at 423.220.1229 or www.uwowc.org.